Birth Injury Facts and Figures

birth injuries facts and figures

Birth injuries can cause an enormous amount of physical, emotional, and financial hardship. If negligence led to the birth injury, you might be entitled to compensation to pay for your child’s care and account for other losses.

An experienced birth injury lawyer from Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C., can review your case and discuss all your legal options. Our attorneys have extensive experience investigating birth injury cases and holding healthcare providers accountable. We will help you get answers and demand the full and fair compensation you deserve.

As respected trial attorneys, our team has a successful track record of helping families who are struggling to cope with catastrophic birth injuries. Some of our notable victories for families include:

If you need legal advice, please contact our law firm now. The consultation is free.

How Often Do Birth Injuries Occur?

Although most babies are delivered with no physical injuries, there is always a chance that something will go wrong during the birth process. In the United States, approximately 1.9 out of every 1,000 infants suffer some type of birth injury, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. The rate of birth injuries has been steadily declining due to improvements in medical techniques and the increased use of cesarean deliveries to avoid difficult vaginal deliveries, the center reports.

Birth Injury Statistics

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ):

  • Nearly 157,700 injuries to mothers and babies in a recent year could have potentially been avoided.
  • The highest rates of obstetrical traumas for mothers involved vaginal births with instruments.
  • Injury to newborns is more common in newborn males than females.
  • Birth injuries are 33% more common in remote rural areas compared to large metropolitan areas.
  • Obstetrical trauma for mothers is most common among women living in the wealthiest communities.
  • The Northeast region has 24% to 32% more birth injuries than the West, South, and Midwest.

Difference Between Birth Injury and Birth Defects

Birth injuries are usually caused by problems that occur during delivery. Birth defects usually have to do with problems that occur while a baby is developing, due to genetics or something that occurred during the pregnancy. Congenital disabilities may be no one’s fault. Birth injuries, on the other hand, may be caused by negligence on the part of the doctor or other health care provider.

Negligence occurs when a healthcare provider fails to provide an acceptable standard of care, or the level of care expected from a skilled professional under similar circumstances. When an infant is injured due to negligent actions or inactions of medical personnel during delivery or pregnancy, those medical professionals may be held liable.

Common Types of Birth Injuries

Babies can suffer from a wide variety of birth injuries that can lead to short- or long-term issues.

Common types of birth injuries include:

1. Cerebral Palsy

This is an injury to a baby’s brain that causes disabilities that vary based on the severity of brain damage. CP is a movement disorder, affecting muscle tone and movement, reflexes, speech, posture, and mobility. It can be so severe that it causes total disability. With some, it may cause seizures, cognitive impairment, deafness, blindness, or difficulty swallowing. Cerebral palsy symptoms include:

  • Variations in muscle tone
  • Stiff muscles
  • Exaggerated reflexes
  • Poor balance and coordination
  • Impaired motor development
  • Lack of fine motor skills
  • Slow, writhing movements
  • Awkward gait
  • Joint and bone deformities
  • Excessive drooling and difficulty swallowing
  • Learning difficulties
  • Seizures

Unfortunately, there is no cure for CP. This lifelong condition can be treated, though. CP patients typically require long-term physical therapy and assistive devices such as wheelchairs and braces, among other special care.

2. Erb’s Palsy

Also known as brachial plexus injury or BPI, Erb’s palsy occurs when the nerves that surround the shoulder (brachial plexus) are damaged during birth. Common causes of Erb’s palsy include:

  • The pulling of the baby’s head and neck toward the side while the shoulders pass through the birth canal
  • The doctor or another medical professional pulling on the baby’s shoulders during normal delivery
  • Placing pressure on the raised arms of the infant during a breech delivery

Erb’s palsy symptoms may include weakness or numbness in the arm and partial or total paralysis of the arm.

3. Hypoxia or HIE

Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is a condition that causes an infant’s brain cells to die due to a lack of oxygen (hypoxia). This birth injury causes permanent brain damage and may lead to the development of cerebral palsy. Hypoxia may occur during birth if:

  • The umbilical cord, which carries oxygen to the baby, becomes pinched or twisted.
  • The umbilical cord comes out of the cervix before the baby does.
  • Labor is exceptionally difficult or prolonged.
  • The infant’s lungs are not fully developed.

HIE symptoms may not be visible until a few months into the child’s life. Symptoms may include:

  • Seizures
  • Impaired coordination
  • Poor judgment
  • Hearing and vision problems
  • Learning disabilities
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Poor reflexes
  • Inability to control muscles

4. Shoulder Dystocia

This is a complication that occurs when a baby’s shoulder gets stuck in the birth canal. Shoulder dystocia is usually discovered only after the labor has begun, and the complication creates problems for the mother and child. The pressure of the mother’s body trying to force the stuck baby out can lead to injuries to both of them. For the baby, complications include:

  • Lack of oxygen
  • Fractured arm or collarbone
  • Nerve damage to the shoulder, arm, or hand

Complications for the mother include:

  • Tearing of the cervix, rectum, or vagina
  • Bruising to the bladder
  • Hemorrhaging

5. Klumpke’s Palsy

This is a type of paralysis that results from damage to the brachial plexus. An infant’s brachial plexus nerves may become injured during delivery, causing Klumpke’s palsy. Klumpke’s palsy can be debilitating, preventing a child from having movement and sensation in the hand and forearm. The condition can be permanent.

6. Meconium Aspiration

A leading cause of illness and death in a newborn, the possibility of inhaling meconium occurs in about 7% of births. It typically occurs when the fetus is stressed during labor. Meconium aspiration syndrome is a severe condition where a baby breathes a mixture of meconium (the substance forming the first feces of a newborn) and amniotic fluid into the lungs during or around the time of delivery.

When Medical Negligence Causes a Birth Injury

Medical negligence is when health professionals fail to meet the accepted standard of care, resulting in injury or even death to the patient. Concerning birth injuries, the standard of care involves the level of judgment and consideration that should be expected of medical professionals in pregnancy and childbirth situations.

Healthcare professionals need to be prepared for complicated birthing situations and provide prompt treatment if something goes awry. Sometimes obstetricians and other doctors need to act promptly when the health of the baby or mother is in danger. Failing to respond appropriately under these circumstances can qualify as medical negligence.

Forms of medical negligence include:

  • Failure to diagnose conditions in the baby or mother
  • Misuse of birthing tools
  • Using improper force during delivery
  • Failure to monitor the health of the baby before and after delivery

Complications that are not adequately addressed can cause permanent harm to babies and mothers. At Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C., we focus exclusively on catastrophic injury cases. We understand how devastating birth injuries can affect the lives of the baby and everyone in the family for many years to come. That is why we fight so aggressively for the full compensation families need.

Call a Birth Injury Lawyer Today!

A severe birth injury can forever impact a child’s life. If your child suffered a catastrophic birth injury, the respected trial lawyers at Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C., are ready to help.

Our law firm has the experience and the resources to take on these complex cases. We work with a network of medical professionals who can thoroughly assess your case. Our team is committed to getting the answers your family needs and demanding the justice you deserve.

Call us today to schedule a free initial consultation with a knowledgeable and compassionate injury attorney. Our lawyers handle cases on a contingency fee basis, which means you will not owe us a dime unless we recover compensation for you.

Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg, & Jeck, P.C.
1634 Spruce St, Philadelphia, PA, 19103
Phone: (215) 585-2814